How companies can make a success of returning mothers – one woman’s story

Nicola Cole’s life-long goal has always been to be a mother. In Vaultex, where she works as a cash processor, she’s found a workplace that supports that ambition. She explains how.

All Nicola ever wanted was to be a mum, she says smiling. “That was my ambition in life and I have succeeded. I have two beautiful children [a 13-year old girl and an 11-year old boy].”

She’s grateful to have found an employer that “appreciates the importance of people’s personal lives”.

“When you’ve got a company that understands your personal needs, as well as their own business needs, that makes for a really strong partnership,” she says.

“My family is the most important aspect of my life, and Vaultex understands that and is supportive of that, so are my colleagues. If there’s ever a time the kids need me, say they’re sick or they have a Christmas play, everybody rallies together so I can be there for them. That’s a big deal for me.”

People, flexibility and family

It was in 2004 that Nicola chanced upon Vaultex, one of the UK’s leading cash management companies.

At the time, the business where she was doing secretarial work went into liquidation. Her wedding was only a few months away and she needed to find employment quickly to pay for the associated costs.

“An office job at Vaultex’s Dagenham site [the largest coin centre in the UK] came up and it was just what I needed at the time. I never thought it was going to be a long-term thing, but here we are in 2020 and I’m still here.”

It’s the people, flexibility and focus on family that’s kept Nicola happy where she is, she says, now a firm believer that “things may not work out exactly how you planned, but that everything rolls into place for a reason”.

“I’ve never felt the need to leave. I enjoy my job and enjoy the time I spend on site with my colleagues – they’re my friends, not just colleagues. We have a good giggle in the office.”

How being a parent impacted her career

When Nicola had her two children, she took nine months maternity leave both times and although she’d been in an office based role prior, she returned as a coin processor. This gave her the ability to look after her children during the day and work an evening shift once her husband was home.

“Raising our children ourselves was something I felt very strongly about. I didn’t want somebody else to see their firsts, I wanted to be there as much as possible and Vaultex made that a possibility by allowing me to work evenings. I never missed a thing!

“They were very flexible and accommodating to our needs at the time, and more than happy for me to change my role to something that would work better around my family. It was perfect, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Nicola’s tip for managing life as a parent is to find a supportive workplace, who understands the importance of family. “It makes all the difference,” she says.

The flexibility Nicola received isn’t a one-off, she says, it’s part of Vaultex’s strong work-life culture.

“For me, work is work and life is life. I don’t take work home and there isn’t any pressure to do so. I enjoy my job but once I leave the building, all my focus and attention can be on my family, which is how I like it.”

Outside of work, Nicola enjoys nothing more than spending time with her family. “Our favourite thing to do is camping, and just enjoy the outdoors and each other’s company.”

Everyone’s equal – everyone pulls together

Once Nicola’s children were of school age, she left her coin processing role and went back into the office, so she could work during the day and be home in the evenings.

She explains the different role functions at the Dagenham site: “Customers send in their coin deposits, they are counted via our high speed coin counting machines and checked by the coin processor to ensure the deposits are correct.

The paperwork then makes its way to us in the office. The processors credit the customer accounts accordingly and accurately. The aim is that the customer receives the highest level of service at all times.”

“It’s a real team effort. You can’t do anything on your own. You’ve got to be able to work as a team and everybody pulls together at Dagenham.”

Nicola has enjoyed the variety of roles she’s had in her 16 years at Vaultex. “I enjoyed my role as a coin processor and also now enjoy my office-based role.”

She also appreciates the diversity encouraged on-site. “Men, women, we can all do the same jobs at Dagenham. They literally see everybody as equal. Everybody is given the same opportunities, which is the way it should be.”

Her advice for any woman working in a non-traditional sector such as warehousing is to be confident in your own abilities.

”If you lack confidence in yourself, then you’re giving other people the scope to lack confidence in you. So know your worth and run with it. If you show confidence, that’s where confidence from others is gained.”

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